Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is your faith strong enough to be seen?

"When he saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” ( Luke 5: 20).

What did Jesus see as their faith? Although Jesus could see the heart and mind of every person and know what is in it, here let us say that Jesus saw the physical effort the paralyzed man and his friends made to get to Jesus.  That is faith in action.

Jesus is our full security for health, family peace, money, job and all our needs.

What is paralyzing you today?  Health, family problems, money, job, tools, food or your future?  The paralyzed man had faith partners to lift him to the presence of Jesus.

We all need prayer and faith partners to lift us up at the moment of our greatest need. One of the great teachings of the Church is of immense consolation to many Christians:  the Communion of the Saints.  Our prayer partners include the saints here on earth and those already in Heaven.  I have probably over 30 such saints in Heaven whom I invoke every day to lift me up to God in my needs. Some people ask:  why don't you ask God directly instead of going through a saint? The answer is simple. Of course you can ask God directly.  But when you are in a desperate situation, you ask your pastor, prayer warriors, family and friends to help you urgently.  Some of these people you ask will not remember to pray for you.  But the saints in Heaven will never forget.  The greatest reason for invoking the saints in Heaven is because the practice is in the Bible and it is sealed by the official Teaching of the Church.

All you holy men and women in Heaven, pray for us in our struggles to get to where you are. Amen.

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

John the Baptist is not one of the greatest but the GREATEST!

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths."  (Mark 1: 2 - 3).

Who is this messenger?  John the Baptist.  What do we know about John?  John was the son of promise of aged parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. His father was a priest from the clan of Levi. This means that John was assured by birth the privileges of the upper middle class of the Jewish community. But John had a vocation announced by two Old Testament prophets, Isaiah 40: 1 - 5 and Malachi 3: 1.  So John is a serious and important person in salvation history.

How did John handle his mission?
John made the wilderness his home and "wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey." (Mark 1: 6).
You might wonder: Why this extreme austerity? This is to have the radical detachment and independence necessary for his mission.

Jesus praised John as not one of the greatest but the greatest!  (Matthew 11: 11;  Luke 7: 28).

John the Baptizer has done his work and is gone.  But the work of announcing the good news and glad tidings continue to this day. 
Jesus is Calling.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

We have One Teacher: Christ the Lord!

"No longer will your Teacher  hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, and your ears shall hear a word behind you: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or the left."  (Isaiah 30: 20 - 21).

A teacher in Israel is synonymous with a prophet. "Where there is no vision, the people perish."  (Proverbs 29: 18).  Israel has known many days without teachers and prophets.  "For many days Israel was without a teaching priest" (2 Chronicles 15: 3).  The nation was able to compare the Before and the After experience.

In our key Scripture for today (Isaiah 30: 20 - 21), God is promising a permanent Teacher, who will always be there.   "He is the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."  (John 14: 17).

Today we live in a world in an existential crisis of truth.  In the Body of Christ, people ask  "Where is the truth? What is the truth?"  From the media and social media, and government media, we see  more often than in the past mutual accusations of falsehood and lies.
Who do we believe?

The Bible warns that the time will come when "They will accumulate teachers after their own lusts" (2 Timothy 4: 3).  These contending voices want to be teachers of the law, but are ignorant (1 Timothy 1:7).  The Bible warns:  "Not many of you should be teachers" (James 3: 1)

"Do not be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher, for the Christ is your only Teacher." (Matthew 23: 10). We have one Teacher, Jesus the Christ who teaches us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Amen!

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - A Holyday of Obligation.

"I rejoice heartily in the Lord,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bride adorned with her jewels. (Isaiah 61: 10, Entrance Antiphon on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception).

The Church worldwide celebrates today the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a Holiday of Obligation.
The Church applies Isaiah 61: 10 to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the gracious will of God to prepare a worthy dwelling for His Son Jesus. By God's prevenient grace, Mary was untouched by any stain of sin when she was conceived by her parents. She was preserved from the curse of Original Sin. This was accomplished by virtue of the vicarious death of Jesus the Christ which was foreseen by the Eternal Father.

The Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast of the United States of America.  Today therefore:  No fasting or Advent penances .  Let us rejoice and be glad as we celebrate one of the great mysteries of our salvation.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Make Prayer a Special Gift for yourself this Advent.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found;  call him while he is near."  (Isaiah 55:  6).

The Gospel acclamation today, Thursday in the First Week of Advent is direct in its message.  Advent is a season of anticipation, expectation and waiting.  When you expect something,  as you grow in wisdom, you learn to wait for it.  When I was an inexperienced air traveler. I arrived at the airport at the stated time expecting the flight to leave exactly at the stated departure time.  Needless to say, it doesn't happen always.  I would be frustrated.  When I became more experienced, I planned to wait.  I bring along some work or books.  The Gospel intimates us that there will be delays in the Second Coming of Jesus.  It will come without warning like a thief in the night or spring open like a trap.

Lent and Advent are two Seasons  most favorable for divine favors:
"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near."  (Isaiah 55:  6).  It is like handing you a cheat sheet for an exam.  Use it, you pass.

How do we prepare for Advent?
#1.  Prayer:  If you don't do the Liturgy of the Hours already, this is a good time to start. The Liturgy of the Hours is found in LAUDATE and is also available in other apps in all platforms. Prayer is a vital necessity.  When you pray with the Church using the Liturgy of the hours (about 10 minutes), you participate in a prayer used by millions all over the world.  You are comforted to know that this Prayer goes to the very beginning of the Church.  Jesus most probably prayed the Liturgy of the Hours.  All the clergy and all religious are bound to this prayer by Church.  Today many lay men and women pray it.

"Prepare our hearts, we pray, O Lord our God, by your divine power,
so that at the coming of Christ Your Son we may be found worthy of the banquet of eternal life and merit to receive heavenly nourishment from his hands.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect   Wednesday, 1st Week of Advent).

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will.

"Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will."  (Luke 10: 21 RM).

I cannot read the above word of God without rejoicing in how it was fulfilled in the life of St Therèse of the Child Jesus, also called the Little Flower.  I just finished a reread of her autobiography.  St Therèse entered the Carmelite Convent at the age of 15, when most girls today have not graduated from high school. She died at the tender age of 24 when most people have not finished college. Her autobiography, THE STORY OF A SOUL was the only work she produced.  That was enough to make her one of the 35 Doctors of the Church in the 2017 years of Church History. Amazing, you might say.  But truly the most wise and powerful Divine Providence at work in human history.

"Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will."  (Luke 10: 21 RM).

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Lord Jesus, no need to come to my house. You can heal my servant right here, right now.

Lord, heal my servant, right here, right now.  The Roman Centurion pleaded with Jesus.

“Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."  (Matthew 8: 10 NABRE)

Why does Jesus praise so lavishly the faith of the Centurion?  Faith is a rare commodity and one of the greatest gifts of God.  The opposite of faith is Unbelief and Doubt.

How does faith work?  Jesus said to the Centurion:  “I will come and cure him.” The Centurion heard this and believed.  The faith of the Centurion is much deeper.  He said to Jesus: No need to come to my house.  Just heal my servant with a word from here.  Right here, right now.

I had been a Christian for many years before I understood what faith means.  I remember that the first time I came to realize that faith means believing or trusting in what God says to us, I was surprised.  It sounded so simple.  My immediate reaction to this definition of faith was:  “Would anybody doubt what God says?”  In fact, this is what we do most of the time.  

What gave the Centurion such an elevated faith?  He applied  his experiences as a senior Roman officer to understand how God's power works.

Faith comes from hearing and believing the promises of God.  As you exercise your faith every day, it grows.

Happy Advent!

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Watch and Pray.

"Jesus said to His Disciples: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come."  (Mark 13: 33).

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The above Scripture is the core message of the Advent Season.

How do we watch? How do we keep alert?

#1. By spending time in prayer.  Prayer is not just a vital necessity, it is the cause and source of grace and mercy.
#2. By spending time in the word of God.  Sacred Scripture is the Manual written by God for a purposeful and successful living.
#3.  By worshiping God in a Christian Community and Assembly on Sunday.

"God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."  (1 Corinthians 1: 9).

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Friday, December 01, 2017

Don't allow the day to catch you by surprise. Be prepared.

 “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise  like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

We are in the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year! It is one big celebration.  Yet the Church gives us the above Scripture always at this time.  Why?
Today is the last day of the Church Year.  The Church starts a New Year on Sunday with the Beginning of Advent.

Advent is the Season we wait for the Coming of the Lord.  Two Comings of Jesus are always in our mind.  The first Coming of Jesus as a poor child born in a Manger in Bethlehem.  The second Coming is His Coming in majesty at the end of the ages to judge the world.  Just as it is impossible to be unaware of a brilliant sunrise ☀, so will it be impossible to mistake the Second Coming of Jesus.  His Second Coming will be thousands of times more dazzling than the most brilliant sunrise 🌅 you have ever experienced.

This season of joy and festivities cause anxiety to some people.  Instead of trusting God and enjoying the present moment, they are filled with anxieties about the future. Some others see the season as a time of indulgence in sinful and carnal pleasures. Scripture warns that the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ will catch them unprepared as a trap catches a prey.

"Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:  36).

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First Friday in December 2017.

December 1st, 2017 First Friday in December.

Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 12th month of the year, we look at Promise #12.

#12. "The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour."

"I was dead but now I am alive for ever."  (Revelation 1: 18).
Many years ago, I was in a hospital ready for death. They called a priest, whom I chose and he came promptly for the Last Rites. He heard my confession and administered the Viaticum.  I was peaceful as he bid me goodbye and left the room for his work.  I recovered after a short time.

Now, when I read the 12th Promise, I remember this incident and thanked Jesus for His faithfulness. Jesus knew that I would not die then, but He wanted to impress upon that He is truly the Faithful Witness.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, December 1st.

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For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Jesus Christ is in His word. That is why it will never pass away.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."  (Luke 21: 33).

This is an amazing promise for the word of God. Everlasting stability and infinite staying power.  One of the attributes of God I love is His staunch faithfulness. Always faithful to His word, His promises and all His decrees.  Semper Fidelis!

But what is this word of God that will never pass away? Let us learn from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"The Word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament" which hand on the ultimate truth of God's Revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church's beginnings under the Spirit's guidance."  (CCC #124).

The word of God is ultimately and finally Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Jesus Christ is in His word. This is why it will never pass away.

Praise, honor and glory be to You, LORD Jesus Christ, Word of God, Son of the Eternal Father. Amen!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Is Jesus calling you as He called Peter and Andrew?

"As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.  He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him."  (Matthew 4:  18 - 20).

Today is the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle.  Jesus caught Andrew and his brother Peter as they were catching fish and promoted them beyond their dreams to be fishers of men.

"And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,  to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."  (Ephesians 4: 11 - 12).

Is Jesus calling you to use your talent, training and experience to build up His Body?  There is no unemployment in the Vineyard of the Lord.  Jesus is hiring all the time.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!”  (Romans 10:  15).  Those beautiful feet may be yours.

“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”  (Romans 10: 18).
The Apostles and their disciples did their part.  The Lord Jesus is still saying:
"Why do you stand here idle all day?"  (Matthew 20: 6).

"They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard."  (Matthew 20: 7).

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Henry the 8th executed Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. The rest of the English Bishops ran for their lives.

"They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.....By your perseverance you will secure your lives." (Luke 21: 12 - 13,  19)

Persecution, small, big and unto death comes with the territory of being Christian. In 1534, St Thomas More opposed King Henry the 8th over his self declaration as head of the Church in England.  All the English hierarchy, that is all the Bishops of England out of fear of death succumbed to the threat of Henry the 8th except for Bishop St John Fisher and St Thomas More who was the Lord Chancellor of England.  Both were executed. Both were canonized as saints.  This is what Jesus is saying in today's Daily Bible Verse. Persecution can come suddenly.  As in the case of England in the 1530s, how the mighty may fall.

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives."  (Luke 21: 19).

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Daniel foretold the future of the Church.

"But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."  (Daniel 2: 35).

Daniel interpreted to King Nebuchadnezzar the course of future events which was revealed to the king in a dream.  Throughout the Old Testament, God's plan for the Church was revealed in stages using different communications techniques.  King Nebuchadnezzar had a mysterious vision of various political powers vying for supremacy. One power displacing the other and occupying center stage for a brief moment until a mysterious stone fell out of heaven and shattered the myth of earthly powers. This stone is the Church. No historian will deny the enduring power of the Church.

"In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2: 44).

Christians rejoice in this truth:  The Church of God shall endure forever and ever.

"The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future; this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.”  (Daniel 2: 45).

"Remain faithful till death, and I will give you the crown of life."  (Revelation 2: 10).

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

This poor widow gave everything she had because she trusted God to remain faithful.

"When he[Jesus] looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury  and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins."  She offered all that she had. (Luke 21: 1 - 2, 4).

Today we consider the story of the poor widow and her offertory contribution.  Have you noticed that God has a preferential option for widows?  What does Sacred Scriptures teach us about how God regards widows?

"For the Lord, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes,  who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing." (Deuteronomy 10: 17 - 18).

"You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.  If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry." (Exodus 22: 21 - 22).

"The Lord protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked."  (Psalm 146: 9)

"The Levite who has no hereditary portion with you, and also the resident alien, the orphan and the widow within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied; so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all that you undertake."  (Deuteronomy 14: 29).

We have seen how the Lord cares so tenderly for the widow. Is it surprising to see that the poor widow in today's Gospel is aware of this from her life experiences and shows her gratitude and trust in a God who has provided all her necessities since her husband died.

"Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  (Mark 5: 36; Luke 8: 50).

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Lord our King is a merciful Judge.

Sunday, November 26, is the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Israel has always recognized God as their King and Master.

"The Lord is King for ever and ever."  Psalm 10: 16).
"For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth."  (Psalm 47: 2).

"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our law Giver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us."  (Isaiah 33: 22).

What type of King is Jesus the Lord?
"I myself will search for my sheep and examine them.  As a shepherd examines his flock while he himself is among his scattered sheep, so will I examine my sheep."  (Ezekiel 34:  11 - 12)

Our King is a Shepherd King but infinitely more tender than the human Shepherd.

"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me."  (Psalm 23: 1 - 2).

This is the promise of our King Shepherd.  Let us receive this promise with great faith and joy.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

We celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday. Sunday is a rehearsal of eternal life.

"Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him" about the absurdity of the idea of the Resurrection of the dead.
Jesus put them in their place easily:

"Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage;  but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.  They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."  (Luke 20: 34 - 36).

Jesus provided a definitive proof of the Resurrection through His own death and Resurrection. We celebrate this every Sunday.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

My House shall be a House of Prayer.

"Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves."  (Luke 19:  45 - 46).

Why is the Temple so important in God's plan of salvation? Why is Jesus so angry about the desecration of the Temple?

Religion like the government  is an incarnate reality. It exists in time and space not in the air as intangible.  It exists for men and women with flesh and blood. God ordered Moses to build a sacred space where He would meet with His people. He gave concrete and precise instructions for the construction of the House. The sacred meeting Tent later evolved to be a Temple when the Israelites became domesticated in the Promised Land.  The Temple is conceived to be a dwelling of God on earth.  Today, the Temple is the Body of Christ, the Dwelling Place of the Holy Spirit. It is also seen as the individual Christian. Last but not the least, it is the brick and mortar Church where the Blessed Sacrament is reposed.

Jesus Christ defended the integrity of the the Temple as many prophets did with their blood.
Do you honor the Church as the Dwelling Place of God?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

God has provided all our needs as He promised. Let us now give thanks to Him with Joy.

The Bible is filled with Scriptures on giving thanks.  The Lord Himself commands us to give thanks always. What a great uplift to have one Day in the Year devoted to Thanksgiving.

Give thanks to the Lord (1 Chronicles 16: 8, 34; Psalm 97: 12; 100: 4; 105: 1; Isaiah 12: 4).

Come before your God with thanksgiving (Psalm 95: 2).
Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalm 50: 14; 107: 22).
Thanksgiving will please the Lord better than an ox (Psalm 69: 30 - 1).
He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me (Psalm 50: 23).

Why give thanks to the Lord?

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 92: 1)

"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (2 Corinthians 9: 11).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

Now let us make a checklist of things to thank our generous God and Father in 2017:

1.  Health
2.  Family
3.  Money
4.  Job
5.  Tools (car, smart phone, home)
6.  Food
7.  Future

I have been richly blessed in 2017. I hope you can say the same.

Happy  and Joyful Thanksgiving Family.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What are you doing with the talents God has entrusted you?

"I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."  (Luke 19: 26).

At the end of the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins, Jesus said the above. Ten servants were given each, one gold coin to trade with. The one who made the most of the opportunity received ten cities in compensation addition to the gold coin of the useless servant who did nothing with his talent.

Jesus teaches us again that we have all received tremendous gifts from our Heavenly Father.  Every Christian becomes the adopted child of God through Baptism. This privilege comes automatically with the supernatural gifts of Faith, Hope and Love. Every child of God has the opportunity to develop these gifts. As you develop them, they grow and you become richer in Faith, Hope and Love. As you fail to use and grow your talents, they atrophy and may die.

Use them or lose them.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Open the door of your house for Jesus and salvation may enter your house today.

Zacchaeus I want to be your guest today.

"And when Jesus reached the place, He looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today. So he hurried and came down, and he received and welcomed Him joyfully."   (Luke 19:5-6 AMP)

Who is Zacchaeus?
Zach was an important CEO of a tax collection company for the the Romans.  Something like a Director of the IRS. He was very wealthy and his wealth, considered ill gotten attracted animosities to him.

"Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”   Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham."   (Luke 19:8-9 NLT)

People are convicted every day of malicious fraud by our courts every day.  How many have volunteered to give back the loot?

Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy."   (Luke 19: 6 RM)

What a gracious act. 

Some of us have the opportunity to receive Jesus frequently in Holy Communion or in His word.  Do you receive Him with joy?  "Today salvation has come to this house."   (Luke 19:  9)  What a mighty reward for Zach and his family.

Do not let your heart  grow lukewarm.  Pray for the grace of joy and enthusiasm.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ask boldly. Ask with faith and you will receive.

Bartimaeus, the blind beggar sitting by the roadside asked for the cause of the unusual commotion.
"They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”  They shouted him down to keep quiet, "but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”

Those who are well and have no need for doctor may never understand your pain or situation.
But Jesus understood and stopped. “What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, Have sight; your faith has saved you.”  (Cf Luke 18: 35 - 43)

Two lessons from the encounter of Bartimaeus and Jesus.
#1.  Come to Jesus with deep faith, which means simply that you believe that He is God and that nothing is impossible for Him.  Believe too that nothing is too marvelous for Jesus to do for you.
#2.  Be precise about your need or desire.  “Lord, please let me see.” "Lord I need a job desperately and urgently."  "Lord I need a partner for life."  "Lord I am dying of pain. Heal me now."

"Amen, I say to you: Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive, and it shall be given to you, says the Lord."  (Mark 11:  23 - 24).

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Times and Seasons are God’s Appointments.

"Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you.  For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night."  (1 Thessalonians 5: 1 - 2).

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3: 1).

The central message of Times and Seasons is the need to be vigilant at all times.

"I have learned the secret of.... living in abundance and of being in need."  (Philippians 4: 12 ).

There is Times and Seasons in God's plan of provision for our needs.

"Thus says the Lord:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord."  (Jeremiah 17: 5).

If we want to enjoy change of seasons in our lives, we must trust in God with all our hearts.

Times and Seasons are God’s Appointments.  They are not haphazard ; they are not accidents. Winter, spring, summer and autumn are not accidents. 
Rainy and dry seasons are not accidents.

All times and all seasons are in the hand of Jesus Christ.

Wait for them with due diligence.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

The wicked and corrupt judge feared the persistent widow.

"While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me."  (Luke 18: 4 - 5).

Today, our Great Teacher Jesus uses the parable of the the persistent widow and the wicked and unjust judge to teach us a valuable lesson on persistence in prayer. Note that the unjust and corrupt judge was most probably an atheist.  Hence, he has no fear of God or man. But in today's event, he met his match.  A poor but courageous widow who had nothing to lose in the battle with the empty headed, corrupt and unjust judge. The widow's strategy was simple. Be persistent. Never give up. She won.

Then Jesus made extraordinary extrapolation from the story. God too can be worn out by persistent prayer.  But why does God delay in answering our prayers?

Learn to wait for God in prayer, the saints have taught persistently:
"That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."  (Romans 8: 24 - 25 MSG).

"God grants us not always what we ask so as to bestow something preferable."..... “The desire is thy prayers; and if thy desire is without ceasing, thy prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer.”  (St Augustine).

St Augustine also said that God delays answering our prayer in order to make us ready by enlarging us for a far superior gift which we cannot  imagine. How comforting!

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Only fools say in their hearts, there is no God.

"All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan."  (Wisdom 13: 1).

What is the Spirit saying here?  God the Creator is an Artisan who stamped His DNA on every single work He made. Sacred Scripture notes this: 
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands." (Psalm 19: 2).

Why then do certain individuals say there is no God?  See what the Scriptures say of such fools:

"Only fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!" (Psalm 41: 1).

Scripture is harsh in its indictment of atheism but the Church is more gentle in her Good Friday Prayers for those who do not believe in God:

"The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.  Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse."  (Romans 1: 18 - 20).

Could the atheists say to God: "I refused to acknowledge You because of the evil and corrupt behaviors of so-called Christians."
Lord have Mercy!

Every Good Friday, the Church prays thus:

"For Those Who Do Not Believe in God:
Let us pray
For those who do not believe in God, that they may find Him
By sincerely following all that is right.

Almighty and eternal God,
You created mankind
So that all might long to find you
And have peace when you are found,
Grant that, in spite of the hurtful things
That stand in their way,
They may all recognize in the lives of Christians
The tokens of your love and mercy,
And gladly acknowledge you
As the one true God and Father of us all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen"

We say with the Church, AMEN!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Behold I am with you always.

"Behold, the kingdom of God is among you.”  (Luke 17: 21).

The kingdom of God is among you. The kingdom of God is inside you.
Jesus Christ is the King of eternal glory. His reign is the Kingdom.
"The word was made flesh and dwelt among us."  (John 1: 14).
The birth of Jesus ushers in the reign of God on earth.

You may wonder:  Where is the Kingdom? The Kingdom is wherever the King is. The King is in the Church, which is a visible sign of His Presence and authority in the world. The King is in the hearts and minds and souls of everyone who accepts His reign and authority. The King is in every person who loves, as we are taught by the ancient liturgical hymn:  "Wherever there is love, there is God."  (Ubi Caritas).

The thought that Jesus is truly living in you and me is thrilling beyond measure.  One of the aspects of this Live-in that I enjoy most is this:  "I am not alone."  No matter wherever I am, I am not alone.  Earthquake can shake the city, I am not alone. The stock market can crash and all the banks fail at the same time, I am not alone.  The promise of Jesus to this effect can never fail!  Jesus Christ will always be with me, come what may.
"Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”  (Matthew 28: 20).

Thank You Jesus!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ten of you were blessed. Only one of you came on Sunday to give thanks.

“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”..
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”

"And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him."  (Cf Luke 17: 11 - 19).

God is glorified by our Thanksgiving.  Yet, less than 30% of our community is willing to thank God on Sunday for all His blessings of the past six days. God commanded us to do Eucharistein (Thanksgiving) on Sunday in order to honor and praise Him for all the benefits He provides us, viz: health, family, finances, job, homes and cars, computers and cell phones, food and security.  Every good gift comes from God including security.  (Cf James 1: 17).

Ingratitude offends sharply the Heart of God as it does to every parent.

“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  (Cf Luke 17: 11-19).

"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High."  (Psalm 50: 14).

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Jesus is the Master who calls us and equips us for service. Who should be grateful to who?

"Is he [the Master] grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?   So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do."  (Luke 17: 9 - 10).

Jesus Christ is the Master who calls us to service in His Kingdom on Earth and gives us every single gift we bring to the service.  "He equip you with everything good for doing his will."  (Hebrews 13: 21).

"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ."  (Ephesians 4: 11 - 12)

Now use your gifts to build up the Body of Christ.

"I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart."  (Psalm 34: 1 - 2).

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Forgive Always. Forgive Everywhere. Forgive Everything.

"If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”  (Luke 17:  3 - 4).

Forgive always.
Forgive everything.
Forgive everywhere.
Forgive anyone that offends you.
Forgive immediately.  At once.

Why should you forgive?
#1. The Lord has commanded it.
#2.  He forgives everything.
#3.  Jesus blots out the record of your sins and gives you a clear conscience that enables you to to live in peace and sleep well.
#4.  If you refuse to forgive others, the divine forgiveness extended to you will be retracted and you will be required to pay your debt to the full.
#5. Without forgiveness, you may pray but you will gain no favors from God.
#6.  When you bury grievances and unforgivenness, you suffer alone. Your victim is unaware of the pain in your heart.
#7.  Finally, forgive immediately. At once. Don't wait to evaluate the harm done to you. Do it at once.

"Be on your guard!" (Luke 17: 3). Do not fall victim to the evil spirits of unforgivenness.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stay awake for you do not know when your Lord will come.

"Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten Virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps."  (Matthew 25:  1 - 4).

The foolish virgins did not anticipate a delay and were unprepared when the bridegroom was long delayed. (v5)

St. Augustine in his Sermons, 93 wrote: "Watch with the heart, watch with faith, watch with love, watch with charity, watch with good works […]; make ready the lamps, make sure they do not go out […], renew them with inner oil of an upright conscience; then shall the Bridegroom enfold you in the embrace of his love and bring you into his banquet room, where your lamp can never be extinguished."

"Stay awake and be ready!
For you do not know on what day your Lord will come."  (Matthew 24: 42, 44).

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Friday, November 10, 2017

You cannot serve God and mammon.

"No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Luke 16: 13).

What is mammon?

Lust of the flesh
Lust of the eye
Pride of life
Food
Comfort
Sports and pastimes
Riches
Honors
Praise of men

"I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger; no one who believes in me will ever thirst." (John 6: 35)

You cannot serve God and mammon. Both are mutually exclusive. If you pick up one, you drop the other. The Bread of life destroys hunger for mammon in our lives. Hunger for mammon destroys hunger for the Bread of life. It is either one or the other. Never the two at the same.
Jesus the Bread of life is the antidote against mammon.

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Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Lord made him a priest forever.

"The Lord established for him a covenant of peace, and made him the prince, that he might have the dignity of the priesthood for ever."  (Sirach 45: 30)

Today is the Memorial of St Leo the Great.  Who is this man?  He was Pope and Doctor of the Church who lived in the 5th century and helped to define what we know today as the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.

"God, who never allow the gates of hell to prevail against your Church,
firmly founded on the apostolic rock, grant her, we pray, that through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo, she may stand firm in your truth and know the protection of lasting peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect on the Feast of St Leo the Great).

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Sanctuary is the source of every blessing from God.

"I saw water flowing from the temple, and all who were touched by it were saved."  (Cf Ezekiel 47: 1, 9).

"Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”  (Ezekiel 47: 12).

Water and fire are popular images for the Holy Spirit. In the above Scripture, we are told that all types of blessings flow from the Sanctuary.  The Sanctuary is where the Church calls upon the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  From the Sanctuary flows the blessings of salvation to the waiting world.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Don't be intimidated by the cost of discipleship.

"Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?"  (Luke 14: 28).

What is the cost of following Jesus? Read the Gospels and you will find that the cost of the discipleship is all time, all talent and all treasure.  Does Jesus deserve less? Absolutely No!  Some people commit everything to their work or business.

The first Commandment comes to mind again:

"Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."  (Mark 12: 29 - 30).

With the constant availability of the Holy Spirit, nothing can overcome us. (Cf Romans 8: 31 - 32).  No towers to construct. No army to vanquish.

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Monday, November 06, 2017

The King gave a great dinner and those invited brazenly rejected the invitation.

“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.  When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’  But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves."  (Luke 14:  16 - 18).

The Great Dinner represents the Heavenly Banquet, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.  The Sunday Eucharist is a replica, a rehearsal of the Heavenly Banquet. The Host of the Banquet is the Lord Jesus Himself.

Why should anyone reject such an invitation?  Such brazen insult reminds one of the Sin against the 1st Commandment:

#1. " I am the Lord your God:  You shall have no strange gods before Me."  (Exodus 20: 3).

Do I love anybody or anything more than God?

Do I give God time everyday for prayer?  Do I seek to love him with my whole heart?  Have I been involved with superstitious practices?  Have I been involved with the occult?  Do I seek to surrender myself to God’s Word as taught by the Church?  Have I ever received Communion in a state of mortal sin?

"Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled."  (Luke 14: 23)

The Lord Jesus wants the Sunday Mass to be filled to capacity.
"Make holy the Lord's Day."

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Sunday, November 05, 2017

When you have a party, invite those who cannot repay you.

"Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;  blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  (Luke 14: 13 - 14).

Jesus it would appear looks forward to dinner invitations since it gives Him a teaching moment to meet the kind of crowd He did not reach on daily basis.  Here Jesus gives a difficult lesson to the aristocratic group gathered for the dinner and frankly to us as well.

Why are humans so self centered? Even little children act always in a quid pro quo manner.  Jesus set a new rule in the Kingdom He gave His life for. Act like your Heavenly Father, who is lavishly generous to All His children, Jesus admonishes.

"All you who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!"  (Isaiah 55: 1).

Jesus offers the Bread of life free of charge.

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11-6

"Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;  blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  (Luke 14: 13 - 14).

Jesus it would appear looks forward to dinner invitations since it gives Him a teaching moment to meet the kind of crowd He did not reach on daily basis.  Here Jesus gives a difficult lesson to the aristocratic group gathered for the dinner and frankly to us as well.

Why are humans so self centered? Even little children act always in a quid pro quo manner.  Jesus set a new rule in the Kingdom He gave His life for. Act like your Heavenly Father, who is lavishly generous to All His children, Jesus admonishes.

"All you who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!"  (Isaiah 55: 1).

Jesus offers the Bread of life free of charge.

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Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Lord is angry with His priests.

"And now, priests, this commandment is for you: If you do not listen,
And if you do not take to heart giving honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts,
I will send a curse upon you and your blessing I will curse."  (Malachi 2: 1 - 2).

A chilling warning for our priests.  How do we support our priests in their onerous vocation?  The one that comes to mind is to pray for them.  I do this every day but I could and should do more.

God's anger is not abated against His priests. The Almighty God continues:

"But you have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to stumble by your instruction;
You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of Hosts. I, therefore, have made you contemptible and base before all the people,
For you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your instruction."  (Malachi 2:  8 -  9).

What fraternal advice can we offer to our priests in the light of this terrible indictment?

Do you preach but not practice?
Then practice what you preach.

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Friday, November 03, 2017

He chose and called me.

"For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."(Romans 11: 29 NRSV).

"For the gracious gifts of God and his calling are irrevocable." (Revised English Bible). 

"There is no change of mind on God's part about the gifts he has made or his choice." – (New Jerusalem Bible).

"God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded."  (MSG).

"For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn; he will never go back on his promises."  (TLB).

"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call].  (AMP).

The original application of Romans 11: 29 are the Jewish people, our Elders in the Faith.  But there is also an individual application for all of us.  Rejoice fellow Christians in the gracious mercies of Abba Father.

This Scripture is so critical to my self understanding that when it was revealed to me, I tried to read all the versions of it I saw.
I shudder when I apply this Scripture to myself. I flash back to my high school days when I had a great desire to be a friend and companion of Jesus. I abandoned the dream for many years.  Then many years ago, the dream started slowly but surely to come back to me. Today I regard everything rubbish compared with the hope of knowing the Heart of Jesus intimately, loving Him passionately and following Him everywhere. I want to be a friend and companion of Jesus. Certainly God has not revoked his gracious gifts to me or His calling.

My God, I thank You for Your faithful love and mercies. May Your gifts and call to me not be ineffective in Jesus name. Amen!

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They kept silent.

"Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him."  (Luke 14: 3 - 4)

Why did they keep silent?  Probably because of malicious intent.  They did not care for the condition of the man with dropsy and watched intently to see what Jesus would do on the Sabbath.

Only a few days ago, we read:
"Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.  And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect."  (Luke 13: 10 - 11).

The Pharisees and the law makers opposed her healing.

Who are the scholars of the law and Pharisees today?  May we say politicians and law makers, community leaders and all of us who are unaware of the reason for our vocation in life:  to enhance and save lives.  Man needs God today more than ever before in the history of the world

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10: 27).

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

First Friday in November: the 4th. Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

November 4th, 2017 First Friday in November.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 11th month of the year, we look at Promise #11.

#11. "Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced."

I love this promise. I covet it.  How do I live out this promise?  I invest a tiny amount of money on 500 First Friday cards with the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.   I drop some of the cards in the Narthex of my parish Church and two other Churches during the week.  If I have the opportunity to hand them to someone face to face, I point out Promise #11.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, November 4th.

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For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-12-promises-of-sacred-heart-of-jesus.html?m=1

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus!!!

Below are the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

2. I will give peace in their families.

3. I will console them in all their troubles.

4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.

5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9. I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced.

12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

+ Imprimatur: E. Morrogh Bernard, Vic. Gen.,  Westmonasterii, 1954

“Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us.  ‘The Son of God ….loved me and gave himself for me.’  He has loved us all with a human heart.  For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, ‘is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that …. love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings’ without exception.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #478

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. (Wisdom 3: 1 - 3).

Today is All Souls Day. The Church commemorates All the Faithful Departed this Day. Who are the Souls involved here? Let the Church speak:

"All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."  (CCC 1030)

Also:

"The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned..... (CCC 1031).

"But they are in peace."  ( Wisdom 3: 3)
The souls in Purgatory are in peace because they hope that one day, they will be welcomed into Heaven.

"Brothers and sisters:
Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our heart through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."  (Romans 5: 5).

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  (Matthew 25: 34).

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Solemnity of All Saints.

"After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands."  (Revelation 7: 9).

The Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints today.  A holy day of obligation.

Who are the Saints? Our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children, neighbors, ancestors who have died and are already enjoying the blessed assurance of immortality.

How can one join the club?
“[Saints] are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."  (Revelation 7: 14).

What does the above Scripture mean? This world is not our home. We are on a long Journey? There will be delays, disappointments, obstacles, frustrations, bumps, hunger, wars, refugees, immigrants dumped on us on the way.  How do you handle these unforeseen developments? How you do cope with these makes you a Saint or not.

"As we adore you, O God, who alone are holy and wonderful in all your Saints, we implore your grace,
so that, coming to perfect holiness in the fullness of your love,
we may pass from this pilgrim table
to the banquet of our heavenly homeland.
Through Christ our Lord."  (Prayer after Communion on All Saints).

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Monday, October 30, 2017

My friend, wait for the Lord with courage.

"For in this hope we were saved.But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."  (Romans 8: 24 - 25).

Beautiful HOPE has been the dominant theme since we started reading Romans in daily liturgical cycle. I hope you are uplifted by the message. You must be if you nurse some secret hope in your heart.  I am immersed in immense joy and consolation.  As a young school boy, we bantered with this phrase frequently:  "Where there is hope, there is life."  How true! But the Bible puts it better:  "Hope never fails." (Romans 5: 5).

The Prophet Jeremiah who suffered a great deal and waited and waited for the Lord, knew one or two things about trusting, hoping and waiting.  He committed his experience in these immortal words :

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit."  (Jeremiah 17: 7 - 8).

"Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."  (Psalm 27: 14)

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Woman, you are free of your infirmities.

"Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.  And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect."  (Luke 13: 10 - 11).

This story of a woman incapable of standing erect reminds me of Caroline.  Caroline was in her seventies when I met her in morning Mass.  After the Mass, she approached me and gave me a  miraculous medal. I accepted it and believed her testimony about it. Although I upgraded the medal and the chain, the miraculous medal found a comfortable home around my neck for the past 20 years.

Although Caroline may still be bent over, Jesus must have said to her before we met:  “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”  (Luke 13: 12). Our greatest infirmities are not bodily but spiritual.  St Paul teaches:  "For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”  (Romans 8: 15).

Abba Father, give us the light, the grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit!  Strengthen us in this Spirit, that we may never lose Him, never sadden Him, and never allow Him to become weaker in us. Amen.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

No possibility of migration, no Church.

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  (Matthew 22:  37 - 39).

Who is your neighbor? How do you love him?

"You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.  If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry.  My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans."  (Exodus 22:  20 - 23).

Why did God bless America more than other nations. Certainly not because we are the most hard working or honest. It is because our forebears who never forgot they were immigrants opened their hearts to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

God is good and powerful enough to create a world without the necessity for migrations.  But for His own mysterious purposes, He created a world where like the poor, the migrants will always be with us whether we like it or not.

Migrants in the Bible:
Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Abraham and Jacob.
David
All the 12 Apostles.

Without the possibility of migration, the Church would have died in infancy when Rome destroyed Jerusalem completely in 70 AD.

"This I command you:  Love one another."  (John 15: 17).

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Friday, October 27, 2017

After an entire night spent in prayer, Jesus chose 12 ordinary men whom He made pillars and foundation of of His Church.

"Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter,............ Simon who was called a Zealot and Judas the son of James...... ( Luke 6: 12 - 16).

Jesus called the 12 after a  night spent in prayer to His heavenly Father.  He chose twelve men who had been with Him from the Baptism of John. He chose them to become the pillar and foundation of the truth, the Church.  Today is the feast of Simon and Jude, two of the Apostles chosen by Jesus.

"These are the holy men
whom the Lord chose in his own perfect love; to them he gave eternal glory."  (Entrance Antiphon of the feast).

"O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name,
graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect of the feast).

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Who can save me from the principle of sin in me?

"For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."  (Romans 7: 18 - 19).

How difficult and near impossibility it is for you and me to conform our will to the will of God. Have you ever found yourself confessing the same sin again and again. This is the perpetual conflict between nature and grace. Long after we become believers and are "saved," we discover this principle at work in us:  "Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me."  (Romans 7: 22 - 23).  Addiction to depravity? You guessed it.

What does it mean then? An unfinished business about our salvation? Yes indeed. This is the experience of Paul the Apostle. This rabid attraction to evil in every human being is called concupiscence.

How do we win? Again the experience of St Paul:
"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7: 24 - 25).

Moses brought the Law. Grace and mercy comes through Jesus. (Cf John 1: 17). How then do we gain access into the unlimited mercy of God? The ABC of Mercy:

Ask for mercy.
Be merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The world needs the Good News.

"The wages of sin is death."  (Romans 6: 23).

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1: 15).

Sin is at the very heart of the the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery.  Without the tragedy of Sin, the Word would never have become flesh. There would never have been Mary, Peter and Paul, Pontius Pilate. There would never have been the Church.

Now consider this triangle:
SIN * SUFFERING *  SALVATION.

The wages of Sin is death. Can anybody doubt this? Watch the TV. See the brokenness in families. What do you make of the massive opioid addiction? And the total despair in a large segment of the population.  The condition produced by all these tragedies cause deaths. But worst still, they cause death by slow motion.

"But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 6: 23).

This is the GOOD NEWS!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lord You gave me $50,000 to trade with,...

"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."  (Luke 12: 48).

All gifts come from God. All time, talent and treasure. (James 1: 17).
A wealthy landlord distributed seed money to three of his servants. He gave $50,000 to one, $20,000 to another and $10,000 to the third servant. Each according to his talent.

God expects a faithful servant to make a good return on investment.   St Catherine of Sienna, St Teresa of Avila and St Thèrese of Lisieux were given modest capital. They all made  huge return on investment. Jesus Christ was very delighted. He raised the three to the Altar as saints and made each of them Doctor of the Church.

Your Lord will come on an unexpected day for the accounting of your time, talent and treasure.

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